.IN PHOTOS: Finding Home

By dusk, on Dec. 13, 2021, the San Lorenzo River had flooded the encampment in the Benchlands, where an estimated 200 unhoused people lived.

Nearly a month after the flooding, the clean-up continued, and people are still trying to find safe places to settle, at least in the short term.

Meanwhile, Santa Cruz closed a temporary encampment at Depot Park Tuesday, Jan. 18, and about 50 people returned to the Benchlands.

Good Times photog Tarmo Hannula captured a lot of the devastating scenes.

The tents hugging the river’s banks were at risk of being flooded and washed down the river.
“People were miserable,” Greg Pepping, executive director at the Coastal Watershed Council said, “muttering in frustration about their situation, trying to remove their valuable things and keep stuff dry.”
An estimated 50 people went to the city’s evacuation site at the River Street Garage on Dec. 13, but there was no other emergency indoor shelter in place.
“We didn’t know what the impact of those rains was going to be,” city spokesperson Elizabeth Smith said.


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Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.
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